Yes! You are taking a vacation this year! You have plans to load up the RV and spend some quiet time on the edge of your favourite lake in Ontario even though there is sure to be ice and snow in the forecast. However, how do you stop the water from freezing in your RV plumbing? Wayfarer Insurance Group has some quick tips to help you break out of quarantine while keeping your RV in good working order.
Insulation is Your Friend
If this is the first time that you are taking the fifth wheel out for some ice-fishing, you will want to apply insulation to all the exposed pipes under the RV. Found at your local Lowe’s or Home Hardware, it is easy to install and costs just a few dollars for each length. If you head out to the ski slopes in your camper every year, it may be worth your while to have closed-cell spray foam insulation applied to the underbelly.
Full Tanks Freeze Last
You are most likely to have your black or gray tank freeze the first night out because there is just a little water in the big tank. Fill up your freshwater tank to the top before heading out and if you are going for just a couple of days. Also, half-fill the black and gray tanks and add a little antifreeze to them. Avoid hooking up to the campground’s sewage system and plan on doing a major dump when the tanks are full to avoid your valves freezing open.
Keep the Heat Cranking
Make sure that your propane tanks are full so you can run your heat to keep the interior of the RV above 7C. If you are parked at an RV resort, bring an electric space heater and leave the cabinets under the sinks open. If you are on a generator, using the space heater may prevent you from running other major electric items like the microwave.
Just a Drip Lets the Water Flow
If you suspect the temps will drop below zero overnight, open the taps on the sinks and shower to just a drip. Moving water has a much harder time freezing compared to a static puddle. When the ambient temperature outside rises above 5C, you are pretty safe from having your pipes freeze.
Add a Skirt to Block the Cold Wind
Is your camper or park model located in a long-term space on your favourite lake or remote mountain spot at Banff National Park? Invest in an insulated skirt that wraps around the underbelly and wheels of your RV. Even if you are parked for a week or two, the hour spent installing the skirt could make the difference between frozen pipes and running water. In extreme temperatures, using a propane heater under the RV protected from the weather by the skirt will significantly improve your chances of fighting off the cold.
Extra Sources of Heat for Pipes and the Underbelly
Another trick up the sleeve of regular winter campers is heated tape and pads. These low voltage tapes use an adhesive pad to wrap an electric wire around pipes or along the bottom of your water tank. A constant trickle charge prevents ice or slush from forming in the RV pipes. Some of the systems include temperature sensors that can turn on the heat tape and pads according to the outdoor temperature. Make sure to use some of the tapes around your dump valves and run the system for an hour before dumping to ensure your valves can close.
When Dry-Camping May be Your Best Bet
Now, anybody who has survived a Canadian winter knows that periods of cold snaps with temperatures in the negative 20s are not that uncommon. If you are planning on parking the RV during the height of our winter wonderland, you may want to go dry to avoid a losing battle against the cold. Have all your RV plumbing drained and then winterized using RV anti-freeze. Your pipes will not burst and you can skip an expensive repair before hitting the road in the summer.
If you love winter RV camping or are considering trying it for the first time, remember that at the end of the day, winter camping should be fun! So, encountering a bit of snow and braving the cold is worth it to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors all winter long.